Despite its versatility, creamy texture and high vitamin content, pumpkin seems to have been so stigmatized by its annual role as jack-o'-lantern that we rarely use it for anything but desserts. After all, how can you get serious about a vegetable that virtually invites you to make a face of it?
Here's how: try these rich, chewy gnocchi. And be sure to use a fresh sugar pumpkin because canned pulp is too watery to hold the flour and won't work.
1 (2-pound) pumpkin
3 cups unbleached flour, about
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, about
Cut pumpkin in half lengthwise, scoop out stringy pulp and seeds, then cut pumpkin into quarters. Fill deep baking dish 1/3 with water. Place quartered pumpkin in dish, shell side down.
Cover dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees 45 minutes to 1 hour or until fork pierces pumpkin flesh easily. Remove pumpkin from baking dish and allow to cool.
Spoon pumpkin out of shell and into large mixing bowl. Mash with fork until consistency of mashed potatoes.
Measure 2 cups pumpkin pulp and place in bowl. Add flour 1/2 cup at time, mashing to blend with pumpkin, until dough forms that may be handled.
Take golf-ball sized piece of dough in hands and roll into log shape, about 2 1/2 inches long. Cut in half and press lightly in center of each to make indentation. Place on lightly floured wax paper. Continue until all dough is used.
Bring large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add gnocchi several at time. As soon as gnocchi rise to surface, remove with slotted spoon, allowing water to drain well. Place in warm, covered serving dish. Continue until all gnocchi have been boiled.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar into melted butter. Toss gnocchi with melted butter, then toss again with Parmesan cheese to taste. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Note: Gnocchi may be refrigerated overnight. Boil and butter just before serving.